Apple confirms its ‘Applebot’ is indexing the web for Siri and Spotlight


Rumors that Apple might be creating its own search engine started doing the rounds last fall, when webmasters started seeing web crawler visits from IP addresses starting with 17 – the IP address block owned entirely by Apple. Apple has now officially confirmed in a support document that it is operating its own web crawler called Applebot.

Applebot is the web crawler for Apple, used by products including Siri and Spotlight Suggestions. It respects customary robots.txt rules and robots meta tags. It originates in the net block.

While the wording is clearly intended to suggest that this is just business as usual, both the fact that Apple is running its own web crawler at all, and the somewhat vague wording, are interesting …  Read more

Siri vs Google search in 1600-question street test, speed test

As noted by Phillip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune, Apple analyst Gene Munster published a note to clients today that contained the results of a Siri vs. Google search 1600-question showdown.

While it is not exactly a test of how well the companies’ various voice services stack up against one another (since Google Search queries were typed-in and not spoken), but it is a good indication of just how viable Siri is as an everyday mobile search product and alternative to Google. In the test, both Google and Siri were asked 800 questions in a quiet location. Another 800 questions were asked among the loud street traffic in Minneapolis. The results, according to Fortune: Read more

Siri represents nearly 25 percent of Wolfram Alpha queries after four months

Apple’s digital secretary named Siri, an iPhone 4S exclusive, is now responsible for nearly 25 percent of all searches conducted on Wolfram Alpha, an answer-engine developed by Wolfram Research.

As you know, Apple collaborated with Wolfram Alpha on Siri (Microsoft is another licensee), and took advantage of algorithms powering Mathematica, another Wolfram Research product. It lets users type in complex factual queries, and then Wolfram Alpha computes accurate answers from its structured data containing hundreds of datasets.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based Company fancies Wolfram Alpha’s curated knowledge database, which is a nice fit for the iPhone 4S’s factual question answering feature. According to the New York Times’ Steve Lohr, Siri accounts for a quarter of all Wolfram Alpha queries after four months:

Siri accounts for about a quarter of the queries fielded by Wolfram Alpha, whose staff has grown to 200.

Google should be worried, as this could be another sign of Siri users becoming accustomed to retrieving factual answers from Wolfram Alpha and not Google. For example: Telling Siri to “Google the iPhone” launches Safari with Google search results accompanied by text-based adverts, but just asking “How many days are there until Easter” produces a formatted answer from Wolfram Alpha with no advertising whatsoever. This is also important knowing that a quarter of all searches on mobile devices are conducted through voice commands.

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Siri now lets users access the entire Best Buy product catalog

As noted by RazorianFly, Siri can now help users retrieve the best deals for consumer electronics and gadgets sold at Best Buy. How does she handle this, you might ask? Well, Siri gets some of its answers from the acclaimed answer-engine Wolfram|Alpha.

Wolfram Research announced yesterday they are leveraging data from Best Buy’s public application programming interface, allowing users to browse more than 35,000 appliances and consumer electronics products sold by Best Buy.

Third-party applications and services that integrate with Siri automatically benefit, so Siri is now able to deliver answers to your product-related queries sourced from Best Buy’s vast database.

In addition, taking into account Wolfram|Alpha’s clever decision-making and analysis engine and Siri’s natural-language interface, you can ask her to, let’s say, list plasma TVs larger than 50-inches. Even though Best Buy-sourced answers are laid out as any other information Siri sources from the web, Apple could -in the future- take advantage of Best Buy’s public APIs to produce rich results sporting product images, categories, more meta data and so forth.

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